Poll: Americans more likely to say climate change is a threat if they’ve experienced extreme weather

Runnels is the lead manager of the Antelope Point Marina on Lake Powell, the nation’s second largest reservoir and part of the Colorado River system, which provides water to more than 40 million people in the West.
After decades of drought, Powell’s water level has sunk to unimaginable levels, threatening Runnels’ business and the millions of people who depend on the lake’s water.
Runnels has had to make quick adjustments to the drop in water level and has designed new routes to get from shore to water. He told CNN that he is working on getting another permit to lower the hotspot another 20 feet.
Lake Powell has dropped nearly 100 feet in the past two years amid what scientists have determined is the worst multi-year drought in at least 12 centuries. Runnels blames several things for low water levels, including overuse. There are more people using Colorado River water than it can sustain naturally. He also said that he sees the fingerprints of climate change.

“I’ve seen it go up and down, up and down,” Runnels recounted. “Never at this level.”

A new Gallup poll shared first with CNN found that 1 in 3 Americans said they had been affected by some type of extreme weather in the past two years, and those who had were much more likely to say the climate crisis it’s a threat. Gallup estimates that about 6 million people were affected by the drought at the time.
It is the first time Gallup has asked respondents in its annual environmental survey about their experience with extreme weather. It found that 78% of respondents who have recently faced extreme weather conditions, such as the western mega-drought, the Texas deep freeze, deadly hurricanes like Ida, believe the effects of climate change are already manifesting, compared to 51% who had not.

“People are seeing this happening more and more across the country, and I think they’re making that connection,” Jeffrey Jones, Gallup’s senior editor, told CNN. “It’s certainly influencing how they view the [climate] business.”

While Democrats were more likely to report being affected by extreme weather (45% to 20%), the survey found that regardless of political affiliation, respondents who had been affected were more likely to be worried about the climate crisis.

Republicans and Republican-leaning Republicans are less likely to be concerned, Gallup reported, but there was a 15-point percentage gap in climate concern between those (28%) and those who were not (13%) affected by an event. extreme.

“Extreme weather events are, in fact, more common now than they used to be,” Jones said. “They’re certainly getting a lot more attention in the news, and within that discussion, they’re saying this is evidence of climate change.”

The survey, which was conducted in early March, confirmed how hard it is for people to understand the severity of the crisis until it arrives on their doorstep, Jones said.

Downed power lines collapse onto a road after Hurricane Ida in Reserve, Louisiana, in 2021.

People in the South and West were significantly more likely to report experiencing an extreme event than those living in the East or Midwest, Gallup found. And of those who said they had such experiences, most cited extreme cold, hurricane, winter storm, or extreme heat as the event that affected them.

Among those surveyed in the West, wildfires, extreme heat and drought were the most commonly reported events.

“This data indicates that many people are beginning to realize that our climate is not only getting warmer, but is becoming more variable, which is really bad news for agriculture, water supply, industry and many other critical aspects of life,” Jennifer Marlon, a climate scientist at the Yale School of the Environment who was not involved in the survey, told CNN.

The UN report on the climate crisis confirms that the world already has solutions, but politics stands in the way

Marlon said it’s good news that most people are finally connecting the dots between extreme weather and global warming.

“The next question is, do people understand that the burning of coal, oil and methane gas is what is causing the severe and chaotic weather?” Marlon posed.

On Monday, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that the world must make an immediate transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, such as solar and wind, to limit the impact of the climate crisis; Otherwise, the West is destined for more drought and heat, oceans will continue to inundate coastal communities, and extreme weather will become more deadly than it already is.

Some 65% of Gallup respondents believe that humans are to blame for the Earth’s warming over the past century, rather than natural changes. But while 45% believe global warming poses a threat to their way of life in their lifetime, 54% do not.

At Lake Powell, Runnels expects the water level to rise as snow melts and trickles down from above.

“There’s going to be some runoff from the snow in Colorado and Utah, although it’s not optimal, not where it should be,” Runnels said. “We think we’ll probably hit 10 feet. And if we’re lucky, we’ll get 20.”

Runnels Marina is on a “deep channel” but he says others aren’t so lucky.

“This marina, we can probably hold it for a while now,” Runnels said. “Any other places that aren’t in the main channel where it’s 300 feet deep? Yeah, you know, they’re going to have problems.

“If it keeps going down, they’re going to be the first more or less dry.”

Leave a Comment